A fatal misdiagnosis and a waning love affair send New York City doctor Jo Banks searching for herself in the rural south Jersey town of Bayfield, where she treats a case of food poisoning in the room next to hers in the Oakview Motel. When the couple skips out without paying, she sets off in pursuit, with no luck. Paul and Maggie Nelson, the motel owners, advise her to forget about it and invite her to stay on as the motel doctor. She agrees, settles in, and is soon catching glimpses of that couple everywhere, from a nuclear power plant to the home of Becca, a young runaway she gives a lift to. With each sighting, poor Jo becomes more endangered. What is the elusive couple up to? Could they be behind the sudden vanishing of Becca and her aunt and the unidentified body hidden inside a scarecrow? Could they be responsible for the disappearance of Nick, the Nelsons’ son? Hunky local Revolutionary house restorer Tom Canby helps Jo look for everyone, but when she forsakes his pickup and her motorbike to rent a boat in the dead of night to stake out a supposedly deserted house and barn near the river, she too vanishes, only to become another body in a scarecrow—not quite dead, but badly in need of rescue.
An offbeat heroine, crusty local characters, and a fine sense of menace almost compensate for numerous plot glitches from the author of the Doctor Fenimore series (The Doctor and the Dead Man’s Chest, 2001, etc.).